Alco closing
Economy cited as reason

ALCO Stores, Inc., has announced it will close its ALCO store in Versailles.

In making the announcement, Ricardo Clemente, Sr. Vice President for Store Operations, said, “The decision to close the store in Versailles was a difficult one. We have valued the opportunity to be a part of this community, but unfortunately the store’s performance does not meet our financial requirements. The economy has clearly had an impact on store sales, and we’ve made the very difficult decision to close.” 

Clemente said employees of the Versailles store will have the opportunity to be considered for positions at other ALCO stores. There are 14 full and part-time employees at the local store. It’s been at the current location since April, 1997, but ALCO does not own the building. According to Gary Norman, Ripley County Economic Development Director, it is owned by a group of investors involved with retail stores in Indiana but with no ties here. He is planning a meeting with the group to discuss building options.

Beginning Sunday, Jan. 5, the store marked down prices on many items prior to its closing date, which is anticipated by mid-April.

Clemente added, “This is never an easy decision to make, and we know it will have an impact on the Versailles community. We wish to express our thanks to the many friends that we have served over the past several years and also thank the employees who have served our company faithfully during that time.”

ALCO Stores, Inc. was founded in 1901 in Abilene, Kansas, and it has been in continuous operation since that time. The company operates more than 200 stores in 23 states.


Record-breaking temperatures
Brrr! Tips to combat frozen pipes, stalled vehicles

Mary Mattingly

The frigid weather at the start of this week has many thinking we live in the far north instead of southeastern Indiana. Record temperatures were predicted for the area.

The National Weather Service out of Wilmington, Ohio, recorded that Versailles had reached zero degrees Friday at 6:40 and 8:09 a.m., and the day before, when the area received 25 mph winds and several inches of snow, the high was just 11 degrees.

Shoveling snow in Versailles

The snow can be fun and pretty, but it also means more chores as people have to shovel driveways like this woman did at her home in downtown Versailles.

“I’m sure we will break records this week,” John Franks, meteorologist for NOAA told the Osgood Journal. “Tuesday we’ll be on the tail end of the coldest weather expected.”

Monday, Jan. 6, the high was actually 24 degrees at 1 a.m., dropped to zero by 7 a.m., and was at 2 below at mid-afternoon. For Tuesday, the highs were predicted to hit the single digits, but that’s in the evening, while the day high remains below zero, and feels like 30 below with the wind chill. School in Ripley County was cancelled Monday, the third time this season. Classes were also called off Tuesday (Jan. 7), but the state superintendent of instruction sent an e-mail to corporation leaders noting they may apply for a two day waiver for those districts that closed due to frigid temperatures, and thus they won’t have to be made up.

“The last time it hit zero in Cincinnati was Jan. 18, 1994. So that’s 20 years ago,” Franks noted.

The National Weather Serviced issued a wind chill warning from Monday through today (Tuesday) until 5 p.m. with 10 to 20 mph westerly winds and gusts of up to 30 mph predicted. The winter storm warning for the area, though, was downgraded Sunday to an advisory. Wednesday and Thursday are expected to reach the 20s and by Sunday a balmy 50 degrees is forecasted. Also of note, 86 years ago was the lowest recorded temperature for Jan. 7, posting 3 degrees below zero.

This weather seems worse and that may be because last year we had a mild winter with January temperatures averaging 31 degrees. Franks said, “The 30-day outlook is indicative of below-normal temperatures for North Central US and the Ohio Valley.” Franks doesn’t trust long-range forecasts because there are too many variables. “It’s hard enough to get it right for tomorrow, or even 7 days out!”

Grocers in the area were busy stocking shelves over the weekend. Kroger in Batesville ran out of milk, butter and bread at one point Saturday, but replenished by the evening.


The impeding weekend forecast was actually big business for grocers. Kroger in Batesville ran out of milk, eggs, bread, and butter Saturday afternoon. Check-out lines were to the back of the store around 1:30 p.m. One 30-year employee said he had never seen anything like this. Their food truck arrived on time and the store was replenished by Saturday evening.

Twila Winkle, assistant manager at Osgood’s JayC Food Store, said the weather predictions caused them to be very busy Saturday. “It’s normal behavior for people to come here when we get forecasts like we do, but I noticed this time people were not buying so much the junk food like chips and cookies but thinking ahead and buying ingredients for chili, stuff like that.” They did not run out of anything, she added.

George’s Pharmacy in Versailles was also “super busy” Saturday, which is how one of the clerks described the day. They filled 110 scripts in five hours. Not surprising, business was much slower on Monday.

In the meantime, experts are advising how to combat the sub-zero temperatures with our vehicles and home heating systems. Greg Federman with Federman and Sons Plumbing was working on frozen pipes Friday morning. Cold temperatures keep them busier than normal, he said, due to burst pipes. He advised homeowners to open up cabinet sink doors to expose pipes to warmer air, and to let a faucet drip to keep pipes from freezing. When it gets to 10 degrees is when he starts to get calls. Federman said the best safeguard is to insulate pipes prior to winter.

Mechanics at Versailles Service Center advise to winterize vehicles, which means check the battery, the fluids, and the wiper blades. Make sure the gas tank is at least half full. John Chance with Rayburn’s Service Center agrees and reminded people to keep a blanket and jumper cables in the car, and if you do end up in a ditch, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear so the carbon monoxide won’t flow inside, which can be fatal.

Over the weekend, Gov. Mike Pence encouraged people to assemble an emergency preparedness kit with non-perishable food and water and to fill any necessary prescriptions.

State police at the Versailles post and elsewhere issued an electronic message saying they would tow abandoned vehicles that would impede the snow removal process. They also encouraged people to call 1-800-261-ROAD for road conditions and not to call 911 or local law enforcement for road and weather information.

INDOT’s yellow trucks were deployed to plow state roads and highways. Pence also deployed the National Guard to assist with stranded motorists.

Tom Borgman with Four Seasons Stove Shoppe said if heating with gas or electric keep the filters changed on the furnace and it should be serviced annually. “If using wood or coal, use only dry seasoned firewood and make sure your chimney is clean and unobstructed.” He also said, “insulate around windows, doors, and foundations, and keep blinds and curtains closed as much as possible.”

The Indiana Animal Board of Health reminds pet owners to be especially sensitive to their animal’s limits when outside. Most pets cannot tolerate more than 20 minutes outside when the temperature drops below zero.

Dr. Harley Robinson with Laughery Valley Veterinary Hospital in Versailles said to provide extra food because dogs burn more calories when they try to stay warm. If not possible to bring the dog inside, pad the dog’s shelter with extra straw or blankets, making sure to keep it from getting wet, and blocked from wind, such as in a porch or garage. “Even large dogs are at risk when it is this cold,” he said. Shovel a path for dogs to walk on, he added.

For inside dogs, take them out for just five or 10 minutes. As for cats, “thump the vehicle because cats like to hide under the hood for warmth.” Signs of hypothermia in pets include violent shivering, listlessness, muscle stiffness and not wanting to eat.

Travel advisories
In the past few weeks, travel advisories have been issued for Ripley and surrounding counties. The advisories are issued by the commissioners, after conferring with the highway department, sheriff’s office, etc. On Thursday and Monday, for example, a yellow advisory (often referred to as a level one) was issued.

A yellow advisory is the lowest level of local travel advisory and means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation and individuals should use caution or avoid those areas.

An orange watch means that conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. During a “watch” local travel advisory, only essential travel such as to and from work or in emergency situations is recommended, and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.

A red warning is the highest level of local travel advisory, and means that travel may be restricted to emergency management workers only. During a “warning” local travel advisory, individuals are directed to:
(A) refrain from all travel;
(B) comply with necessary emergency measures;
(C) cooperate with public officials and disaster service forces and
(D) obey and comply with the lawful directions of properly identified officers.

By Monday morning, 51 of the 92 counties in the state were in a red warning level. Indianapolis had 11 inches Sunday night and was basically shut down.



Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Deadlines for candidates to file for May primary
• Reflecting on 2013 by Representative Randy Frye
• Special sports section with details on the Ripley County Basketball Tournament